Bear Vini at BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina

BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina Celebrates a Decade of Rescuing and Protecting Bears

The FOUR PAWS-run wild animal sanctuary in Kosovo currently houses 20 rescued bears


26 May 2023 – Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS celebrates the ten-year-anniversary of its BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina in Kosovo, which was established in 2013 to provide a species-appropriate safe haven for rescued bears in the region. The sanctuary is currently home to 20 bears rescued from exploitation for entertainment and inappropriate keeping conditions. This significant milestone highlights a decade of dedication to the protection and welfare of bears, showcasing the positive impact achieved through collaborative efforts. Since opening BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina, FOUR PAWS has contributed to the end of the cruel private keeping of bears in the country.

Over the past ten years, BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina has emerged as a beacon of hope for abused and mistreated bears rescued from sad fates as restaurant attractions or privately kept pets. Through its tireless commitment, the sanctuary has offered the bears a second chance at life, enabling them to heal, thrive, and experience the natural behaviours they were deprived of in captivity.

In its pursuit of a better future for bears, BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina has transformed from an initial concept to a state-of-the-art facility covering vast acres of lush, natural habitat. The sanctuary's professional team, including veterinarians, caregivers, and conservationists, work diligently to ensure the physical and psychological well-being of the resident bears.

During its ten-year journey, BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina has provided a safe and nurturing environment for each bear that has found refuge within its grounds. From the moment of their rescue, these bears receive specialised care tailored to their unique needs. Through rehabilitation programs, enrichment activities, and veterinary attention, they are given the opportunity to regain their strength and rebuild their lives.

“Over the last ten years, BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina has become a beloved place for over 50,000 visitors a year, lovers of nature and animals, and an important tourist spot for the Municipality of Prishtina, for Kosovo and the region. FOUR PAWS and BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina have made an extraordinary contribution to closing the history of bears in captivity in Kosovo and Albania. We extend our heartfelt thanks to the local community, volunteers, and all those who have contributed to our success over the past decade. Our dedicated team remains steadfast in our commitment to ensuring the well-being and protection of bears and invite the public to join us in celebrating this milestone and supporting our ongoing mission.”

Afrim Mahmuti, manager of BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina

Sustainable long-term improvement for better animal welfare in Kosovo and beyond

FOUR PAWS, the driving force behind BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina, remains committed to the long-term welfare of the bears in its care. Through ongoing monitoring, research, and with a unique educational experience, the sanctuary contributes to raising awareness about the challenges faced by bears in captivity, and advocates for their protection and freedom. The educational measures in particular aim for visitors to return to their lives educated and equipped to make changes in a sustainable way in their daily lives and live a little kinder.

“We advocate for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. In our 13 wild animal sanctuaries and cooperation projects all around the world, we provide species-appropriate conditions for the animals we rescue from terrible suffering. Seeing the 20 bears currently living at BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina thrive in the natural surroundings shows the impact we can have with our solution-oriented, sustainable approach. We not only change the lives of bears and other wild animals we rescue for the better, but also contribute to long-term legislative changes and awareness raising on a local and global level in favour of animals and animal welfare. I’m proud of all the improvements for animal welfare FOUR PAWS has achieved, in Kosovo and beyond,” says Josef Pfabigan, global CEO of FOUR PAWS.

FOUR PAWS has rescued over 200 bears in the 25 years since the opening of its first bear sanctuary in Austria.

Bear Kassandra at BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina

Find out more about BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina

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Elise Burgess

Elise Burgess

Head of Communications

M: 0423 873 382

FOUR PAWS Australia
GPO Box 2845 

Main Phone: 1800 454 228

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them.

Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, animals in fashion, farm animals, and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones.

With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions.

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